The CSAC database is the first systematic and large-scale inquiry into various types of enslavement within modern armed conflicts. It measures reports of conflict-related enslavement committed by armed actors during the years 1989-2016. It includes every case and type of slavery across 171 wars and conflicts fought between those dates.
The armed actors include nation-states, pro-government militias, rebel groups, insurgents, and other sub-state actors.
The database records information on the forms of slavery present, including child soldiering, sexual exploitation / forced marriage, forced labour, and human trafficking. Another variable records whether the use of slavery by an armed actor was in pursuit of tactical or strategic aims or both.
Sides involved in a conflict are designated Side A or Side B. Both are by definition primary parties to the conflict. Side A is always the government side of internal conflicts and the colonial state in extrastate conflicts. Side B is always the opposition side of internal conflicts and is a state in interstate conflicts. Conflicts are coded as to whether each form of slavery was perpetrated by Side A, Side B, neither, or both.
While the plight of child soldiers has been clear for some time, the extent of other forms of slavery – from forced marriage and the sale of slaves through human trafficking by armed groups – has never been measured.
We see the coding of slavery within conflict as a step toward generating more scholarship, debate, and understanding of when and how state and non-state actors use enslavement within armed conflicts, with the goal of learning how to mitigate and possibly eradicate slavery in warfare
In the future, we will extend this longitudinal dataset back to WWII as well as keeping it up-to-date with new conflicts. Future lines of research to be considered include:
The dataset can also be downloaded from the CSAC homepage.
Smith, Angharad, Monti Narayan Datta, and Kevin Bales. 2020. “Introducing Contemporary Slavery in Armed Conflicts: Introducing the CSAC Dataset, 1989–2016.” Unpublished manuscript.
The dataset examines armed conflicts documented by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) from 1989 to 2016 in which at least one side of the conflict was a nation-state. The UCDP defines a conflict as, “a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in a calendar year.”
The UCDP identifies four types of conflicts, which are coded as such in the database:
The database includes
Child Soldiers - Under Article 8 of the Rome Statute, war crimes against child soldiers include conscripting or enlisting children under the ages of 15 years, or using them to participate actively in hostilities. (Rome Statute).
Sexual Exploitation / Forced Marriage - According to the United Nations, this includes “Any institution or practice whereby: A woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian family, or any other person or group; or The husband of a woman, his family or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise; or A woman on the death of her husband is liable to be inherited by another person.” (United Nations Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery).
Forced Labour - According to the International Labor Organization, this includes “All work service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” This excludes compulsory military service, normal civil obligations, penalties imposed by a court action taken in an emergency, and minor communal services. (ILO Forced Labour Convention and Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour).
Human Trafficking - According to the United Nations, this includes three steps:
1. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons;
2. By means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person;
3. With the intent of exploiting that person through: prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery (or similar practices), servitude, and removal of organs. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘trafficking in persons’ even if this does not involve threat, use of force, or coercion. (United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol)